Legion A comeback falls just short

STANWOOD — Losses don’t get much tougher than the one suffered by the Oak Harbor Junior Legion A baseball team on Monday afternoon.

Down nine runs to Burlington in a Skagit Valley District Tournament elimination game, the Wildcats battled back to pull within one in the seventh inning, only to have what could have been the tying score ruled the final out of the season.

Trailing 9-8 with two outs and Chris Vallery standing on second base, Oak Harbor needed a clutch hit. Chris Reilly had the answer, drilling a single to center field.

On contact, Vallery rounded third base and slid into home, only to be ruled out by the umpire on a bang-bang call at home.

The Wildcats chipped away at their large deficit over the final four innings via big hits from Jordan Young, James Cardinal, Vallery and Aaron Bell.

Young, who finished a home run shy of the cycle, along with Cardinal were both 3-for-4. Vallery and Bell both added two RBI in the comeback.

The loss was the second for the number-one seeded Wildcats, who fell 13-3 to fourth-seeded Stanwood during Saturday’s tournament opener.

OH 9, Marysville 6

Staring elimination in the face on Sunday, Oak Harbor came up with a come-from-behind 9-6 victory over Marysville to keep hope alive in the district tournament.

Down 4-1 in the fifth, the Wildcats generated five runs with two outs.

The rally was started on a 12-pitch at bat by Jordan Young, who eventually singled through short. That was followed with four consecutive hits and a walk, including a two-run RBI triple from Andrew Bighouse that rolled all the way to the 385 marker in center field.

“It was a fastball right down the middle and I just swung really early and it felt really good,” Bighouse said. “It was probably one of the greatest pitches I’ve every gotten.”

Bighouse then put Oak Harbor up for good, 5-4, lumbering in from third on a wild pitch.

Oak Harbor also received big hits from Gary Ellis, Cardinal and Vallery.

Pitching, however, is what kept Oak Harbor in the game.

The starter, Ellis, went a complete seven innings and threw close to 140 pitches. He surrendered nine hits, but got batters out at crucial moments, including getting two of his eight strikeouts in the final inning.

“He was ahead of the hitters and had his curve ball working really well,” manager John Encinas said. “He’s a gutsy ball player.”

Stanwood 13, OH 3

Oak Harbor, the top seed from the North, struggled against the number four seed from the South, Stanwood, in the tournament opener on Saturday.

Three Wildcat pitchers combined to throw 160 pitches, along with five team errors — all of which Stanwood capitalized on.

Offensive highlights came from Mike Bressler, who was 3-for-4 and Chris Reilly who was 3-for-3.

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